Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified about the next coronavirus relief package on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, saying President Donald Trump wants a bipartisan deal. There is some hope that with Mnuchin taking over the GOP’s side of the negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a deal can be reached.
However, the two sides still made no progress on Tuesday despite the phone calls that were made.
Mnuchin testifies on coronavirus relief package
Mnuchin testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Tuesday. House Democrats pressed him on reaching a deal for the next stimulus package. He said the Trump administration wants a bipartisan deal to assist schools, children, small businesses and jobless Americans.
He added that Democratic leaders are holding up an agreement, although he also blamed Meadows for the impasse. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Meadows again, but no progress was made on a deal.
Mnuchin: "Real progress" on coronavirus relief package?
Then Mnuchin and Pelosi spoke, but again, there was no progress, although Mnuchin said he would negotiate the next coronavirus relief package "with no conditions whatsoever any time." He again suggested they work on the next stimulus package in pieces, although Democrats refuse to do that.
Mnuchin told CNBC on Tuesday that despite the fact that negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package remain stalled, there has been "real progress" between the two sides. He also said one key area of disagreement is funding for state and local governments.
Democrats want to set aside almost $1 trillion, but Republicans will only support $150 billion for them.
Will there be a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks?
A piecemeal approach would allow lawmakers to get out a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks because both sides already agree on that. It would also enable them to quickly strike a deal on enhanced unemployment benefits, an area they are closer to agreeing on than they are on other provisions.
During his testimony before the House subcommittee, Mnuchin also said again he supports a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks for the next relief package. He also said he supports an extension to enhanced unemployment benefits.
He described both provisions as "critical to the economic recovery." President Trump's executive orders could not send out more coronavirus stimulus checks because the power to authorize new funds is reserved for Congress.
His move to set aside disaster relief funds for enhanced unemployment has been met with mixed results as some states have applied for the funds, while others haven't. The money will run out in a matter of weeks, so Congress must make a move before the money runs out, leaving jobless Americans with only state aid.
GOP to vote on skinny coronavirus relief package
While the Trump administration and House Democrats remain at an impasse over the next coronavirus relief package, the GOP is set for another futile effort. Senate Republicans are planning to vote on their so-called skinny package, which has virtually no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled House.
The bill excludes provisions Pelosi has pushed for, although Republicans say they have nothing to do with the coronavirus.